My name is Elaine M. (Welch) Jacobi. I have an identical twin sister and we were born in Green Bay, Wisconsin. I am an enrolled Stockbridge-Munsee Mohican Tribal Member. My parents are the late Miles C. Welch and Zena (Bowman) Welch.
I was raised on the Stockbridge-Munsee Reservation and graduated from Bowler Public School. Life was simple growing up. We had nature and always found things to occupy ourselves. Dad planted beans and cucumbers and we loved to go blackberry picking. Ma took us fishing a lot and loved getting in the outdoors with Mother Earth and nature. She would take us to Antigo and we would earn money for school and the fair by picking potatoes. We also did babysitting for the farmers around Shawano and Bonduel and in Milwaukee. I also enjoyed teaching Sunday School at the Church of the Wilderness all through my High School years and when my kids were young.
After High School I headed for the big cities of Milwaukee and Minnesota to find a job. There was no work in our area at the time and of course no per cap. It was time to leave the nest and fly away. It was exciting, but scary at the same time. My aunt Guida and Uncle Buck Welch invited me to go and live with them and seek employment in South St. Paul, Minn. This was very generous of them, because they also had a big family. They became my extended family and always have been very special to me. Later on Yvonne and I got our own apartment three flights up and was really on our own.
My first job was in Minneapolis, Minnesota. I lived in South St. Paul and took the bus to Minneapolis. I worked for the "Farmers Union Grain Terminal". This was a huge building that took up a whole block. I remember earning only $1.25 cents an hour. The job consisted of typing, filing, clerical duties and was a very good experience. I remember I got my picture in the paper wearing a leopard coat and walking to the bus, facing those cold Minnesota winters. I think I still have the picture. My husband said he saw the picture in the paper even before he met me. I took tours of farmers around the big building on different occasions. I left that job and worked in a laundry because they paid a lot more.
When I met my husband he promised to take me to California. He kept his promise and we did travel. I have lived in Minnesota, Texas, California, Stevens Point and always wanted to come back to my roots. I have accumulated college credits from a combination of Universities to equal about two years of college. I now work for the Stockbridge-Munsee Clinic, Behavioral Health Department as Receptionist and enjoy my work. Prior to working at the clinic I worked for North Star Casino for eight years, worked in Bowler School as a Tutor, Home Health care in Stevens Point, office work in Minnesota and Sentry Insurance in Stevens Point.
I was raised with my twin sister Yvonne Gleason, sisters Dorothy Nycum and Zelda Zack, brother Chester and my extended family brothers, Roy Brown, Bernard Stevens, Bimbo Welch and Benny Skenandore. I now live in the stone house on River Road where I grew up, with my husband and pooch, J.J. My twin sister Yvonne and her husband Bill live right next door. Bill and Yvonne have always been a great support system to me through many rough times. They always have kept their door open and gave me lots of support and guidance when I really needed it. I will always remember and appreciate this.
But I need to make it known that I am not a "Viking" fan. My husband is from Texas and I was born in Green Bay, so when it comes to the football season we have a lot of disagreements. He is a Dallas supporter and I always back the "Pack". I have been married to Bernard (Bernie) Jacobi for 39 years. We were married at the Church of the Wilderness while living in Minnesota. We have one son, Shannon and one daughter Leah. We have five grandsons and one granddaughter. My children and grandchildren are very special to me and I love every one of them.
I broke my ankle in March in two places so this slowed me up a lot. I am getting around now and very thankful that I can. I don’t know who was happier when I got out of the cast, my husband or myself. I think he was pretty happy to see me get back to work, but he was pretty patient through it all. I guess everything I taught him all these years have paid off, ha, ha. His cooking skills really came in handy because he does love to cook, just ask sister, Zelda about that. Zelda ate dinner with us one Sunday when Yvonne was away, and she said she was going to pack her bags and stay for supper and she did.
I have another funny story to share with you. Being a twin I have a quite a few, but I will share just this one. My husband carried my twin sister’s picture (Yvonne) around in his billfold for many years, maybe about 15-20. Finally, one day I got around to asking him why he always carried Yvonne’s picture in his billfold. He said that’s not Yvonne, that’s you. I said no that’s Yvonne. After a few rounds of arguing with him I finally convinced him that it was Yvonne’s picture. He felt very foolish because he always bragged to my friends and relatives how he could tell us apart. Dave Besaw always teases him about this.
The things I enjoy doing are going to church, singing, Bible Study, traveling, reading, writing, pow-wows, flea markets, museums, working on the Stockbridge-Munsee Constitution Committee and of course spending time with my grandchildren.
I am very proud of my tribal ancestors. They sustained many hardships. I am also proud of my parents. I was with both parents as they faced colon cancer and kidney failure. They never wanted to burden anyone and did everything for themselves for as long as they could. My mother always had the spiritual strength that got us through so much. It was an inspiration to see her reading her bible every morning when we got up to go off to school. She taught us some great values, like respect for elders, sharing, generosity, bravery, and all those Indian values.
My advice to the Youth: Take time to find out your strength and weaknesses and find a career that is really you. Reach out to others when you are in need. There are people who do care and will help you through rough times. Your elders are there for you; all you have to do is ask. Stay strong and brave so that the drugs and alcohol that have so long done harm to our people can be removed and we can be a strong, whole nation. We need you as role models and future leaders. Each and every one of you are precious assets to this tribe and you can make a difference. Love you all, the elder twin!